Wellness Wed: Motorcycle, open road and 2 fresh-air junkies

As Minnesotans prepare for the State Fair start on Thursday, we reach a symbolic end of summer. I spent some time reading blogs from 2017, and enjoying the past 2 years of my writing journey. So I edited a favorite post from December 2017 for Wellness Wednesday. If you’re reading this – head outside! Enjoy your summer! Stop reading! 🙂

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In July of 2017 my husband (then fiance) and I took a trip around Lake Superior, starting on the Minnesota side from the Twin Cities and running clockwise. It was a wonderful journey, made precious by the fact that we had never made that trip before, and the fact that my husband had taken care of 95% of the planning beforehand.

cycle-with-camper-in-schroeder.jpg
Camping trailer, VTX, and our bear canister.

He even re-furbished a motorcycle camping trailer that we were able to use for 6 out of the 10 nights we were away from home. It would have been 8 nights but we opted to upgrade to a hotel on two of the nights when the campgrounds seemed to soggy for us as 40-somethings who enjoy comfortable beds. With hubby doing 100% of the driving, it was important for him to get adequate rest. See how good I am at justifying my desire for comfort? 😉

We wanted to explore one of the wonderful treasures of our Midwest home: Lake Superior. We love Canada and have traveled many times to Thunder Bay and that area. The first time we traveled there was just after we had gotten engaged, and we stayed in the McVicar Manor B&B. I am sad to see when I look online that this may have closed. I know Dorothy and Tom, the owners at the time, were planning to retire.

McVicar Manor
McVicar Manor B&B

Perhaps it is a seasonal closing, as I know they do spend some months of the year traveling.

In any case, hubby found many great camp sites where we could stay all around the lake, as well as a B&B in Sault Ste Marie and some other hotels where we spontaneously stayed when we encountered rain a couple of days in July.

At the start we arrived in Canada during their national holiday, just before the U.S. Independence Day holiday. It was Canada Day, eh! And we found an abundance of people camping, with Canadian flags on display at campsites. The provincial park system in Canada is amazing, and has generally more secluded sites than the typical American camp groud.

My favorites were Sleeping Giant Park and Lake Superior Provincial Park. Hubby took this wonderful photo from Agawa Bay in Superior Park, where we camped right along the shoreline. It was gorgeous, and quite warm that evening. But we started a camp fire anyway, because it is our tradition.

Agawa Bay - Superior
Original photo taken by husband of mexi-minnesotana in 2017. Use with attribution only.

The views from the Canada side were rather spectacular and hubby has hours of unedited video from his Go-Pro which attached like an antenna to his helmet. I kept teasing him about looking like a Martian with that darn thing stuck to the helmet.

Awww, but this is why I keep reading that spending money on experiences rather than things proves to be the most satisfying. There is the excitement and anticipation of the event, then the event itself and then recalling fond memories of the event.

Where are you planning your next vacation? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

O Canada
O Canada! Another view from a similar vantage point, taken by mexi-minnesotana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workplace Wellness – find your friends

One of the biggest drivers of employee engagement is having someone who you consider a good friend (or sometimes best friend) at work.

Or at least that’s what I used to read about when I was an operational manager at Medtronic. I was a little skeptical. But I think I understand what all those employee engagement surveys are trying to say:

It is important to have colleagues that you trust at work, people who may, over time, become friends. I certainly felt like I had a lot of friends at Medtronic. It’s one reason why it was so hard for me to leave.

WORKPLace wellness on wednesdays

At the University, I am only 2.5 weeks in. I feel like I have a lot of “potential” friends, and people who share common interests. It takes time to form relationships. I am not expecting to adopt a bestie right away. It might take 6-12 months before I find out who my real friends are. People tend to be polite in Minnesota, and it’s not always easy to discern who is a true friend.

Also I sometimes encounter people who are excessively concerned with titles and prestige, so they are likely to wait it out a bit before being too warm and friendly. As a “newbie” in this organization, I don’t have networks yet. I am untested, though my boss told me that the people I had met so far gave her positive feedback about the impression they had from our first meetings. So I will count that as a win.

In any case, I think I am fairly good connecting people and ideas. But like anything, I am being patient with it, since I know that every work place culture is different. I am confident that all of this will shake out eventually.

Back to the mantra I used a couple of weeks ago: You have time. 🙂

Happy Wednesday, friends!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Workplace Wellness – Ask for help

The following is an edited post from August 2018 originally entitled “Wellness Wednesday – Ask for help.” Since I am in the second week of my new job, it seems like a good reminder to myself! 

Do you find it hard to ask for help? 

I confess that this is something I am still need to practice. I was taught very well to always be helpful. But I did not often ask for help. And it can take me time to admit to myself when I need help, and to ask and receive it.

But asking for help can be a way to honor other people and allow them to connect with us in a meaningful way. Once I started thinking of it this way, it seemed that asking for help is actually like giving someone a gift. 

When we ask for help we indicate that we trust and respect another person. We express our belief in their capability. Most of the time, people who can help us are happy to help us. Think about the last time you responded to a request. Did you feel good about helping? Most of us do. (Unless the request is unreasonable or feels imposed, but that is another scenario).

help
Photo credit link

It can feel vulnerable to ask for help. We must admit we don’t have it all together, or we do not know something. I am starting to get over this as I realize we all need help from time to time. There is no shame in it, and potentially we deepen the connections in our relationships.

Sometimes we worry that if we ask, a person will say no and reject the request. I have found that if I ask sincerely and from a place of gratitude, more often than not, I receive help. It helps to be specific about the request and to always thank the giver.

I also learned that asking out loud is a better option than mentally projecting your requests to someone. This is truly OBVIOUS. And sometimes I have made the mistake of assuming others (like my husband) could read my mind and would know what I wanted. Nope. We must use our words, and express requests out loud. I realize not everyone here has grown up in passive-aggressive Minnesota where this tends not to be modeled.

Perhaps we want to stubbornly do things ourselves, and we feel a sense of failure if we ask for help. Perhaps we were taught that strong and capable people do not need help, or this is the message we absorbed in our youth. In any case, it is time let go of our fear and to embrace a new belief and a new practice!

WORKPLace wellness on wednesdays

Graciously asking for and receiving help is a practice that can enhance our relationships and allow us to focus on our strengths. If you are new to it, take it in stages, and start small. You may be surprised at what you discover and how much more capable you feel by inviting your community to be part of your success.

Next time you are struggling, know you are not alone. Use it as an invitation to ask a coworker for what you need or want. Be brave, and be thankful. We do not have to go it alone.

cristy@meximinnesota.com

 

 

El silencio es oro

Speech is silver; silence is golden, goes the saying. Though the second half is the more remembered according to the Literary Devices site.

Tonight my husband was thirsting for some silence, and I was sitting in the dining room on my laptop, oblivious to this fact. He had his phone in hand, and was sort of half-listening to me (or at least that was what I perceived).

When he does this while I am trying to actually connect with him, it drives me crazy. But because I was kind of wound up from a busy day, and thoughts of needing to “fit everything in” before I return to a full time work schedule, I was multi-tasking. I was talking off and on, not very aware of how much I was blathering on, while trying to get 3 other things done on my computer.

Even for those of us with variable attention, who juggle many tasks fairly well (more than the average person), there is a limit. Going beyond the limit does not typically end well.

silence is golden

In our case, it touched off a sensitive subject for me. He pointed out that I was talking a lot (it had been a hard day for him) and it was too much for him. I didn’t respond well at first. It triggered a “shame storm” of my own memories of being silenced in other settings: in my family, in various workplaces and at other times.

So I did my best to respond mindfully and I asked him to tell me more. I had gotten a little teary and “raw” at the story that I was making up: that he doesn’t care what I have to say. In reality, he only wanted what I’ve been giving myself every morning: quiet time upon arriving home, to wind down and transition into the evening. (In my case, it is quiet time in the morning to transition to into my activities).

I realized I had been glued to my computer for the afternoon, in full-on “work mode” even after he arrived home. I had not done my usual “shut down ritual” for the day, creating space between work brain and home brain, and taking my work stuff out of the dining room (adjacent to the living room).

His request was reasonable. I asked him: “when I do talk mindlessly or forget that you need some quiet wind-down time, what are ways you can remind me of this in a non-shaming way?”

We decided on something humorous. A former co-worker of mine used to stand at my cube on Friday afternoons and chat with me while I was trying to wrap up the week and leave. This used to drive me crazy, because I did not know how to politely ask her to leave me alone so I could finish and go home.

Hubby is going to call me by that name when I’m not sensing that he needs quiet. I shall refrain from naming the person. I am pretty sure they did not do this on purpose, and may just have been lonely.

From pursue your path
stolen from my webpage of my coach

The irony of all of this is that one of the values my coach, Elizabeth Dickinson, had helped me uncover was that of “personal space.” What that means to me: plenty of time for solitude, quiet and “deep work” time, along with time and space to listen to my podcasts and shift my energy as necessary to a just right stimulus. It is harder to achieve that in cubicle-land when we do not have an office with a door.

Soon I will return to a setting where I will have a cube again, and have been trying to consider how to access personal space. I am hoping that in an academic environment at a University, some closed-door time and deep work will be honored, even for staff who are not professors. Maybe in a conference room? But I am not sure. If any of my readers have advice and/or thoughts on this topic, I welcome your feedback. Clearly there will be a part 2 to this reflection, as I have just scratched the surface on this topic.

Is silence or solitude golden to you? How do you carve out those spaces in your workplace if you do not have an office? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com